Friday, February 13, 2009

How Bruce Pearl changed the world

At a press conference the other day, somebody asked Kevin Stallings how the presence of Bruce Pearl has intensified the Vanderbilt-Tennessee rivalry.

He had a pretty good answer:

"I don't know. I would say that the head coaches are more caretakers of it than anything else. I think that it's always been pretty intense. I think that any time the two teams play it's been intense. The 10 years that I've been here they've all been very intense games. Some have been blow outs in both directions, but they've been intense games. The crowds have been intense. I would imagine because of Bruce's personality and flamboyance there are a few Vanderbilt fans who like to dislike him more than maybe they have some other coaches. I don't think it's changed the nature of the rivalry, because the rivalry's intense no matter who's coaching the game, me or him or the people before us."

When it was Pearl's turn, somebody asked him the same question, if his presence has intensified the rivalry.

He had a pretty good answer:

"I don't know what the rivalry was like before I got here. I just know that historically... Vanderbilt's been a great rival... For me, it's always been out of respect for Vanderbilt's program. It's been out of respect for their tradition to honor them in a way by calling them a rival. I think now that we're in the SEC East and we play them twice a year and it's in-state, our fans live next door to their fans, I don't know how it could be any more of a rivalry with me than it's always been. Even though I don't know what it was like, I would imagine it's always been a great rival."

Vanderbilt fans are basketball fans, possibly because the football team has been so bad for so long and spawns such web sites as Moral Victory! And from a Vanderbilt basketball fan's perspective, it was a great rivalry when Barry Goheen was beating Don Devoe's Vols and it was a great rivalry when Billy McCaffrey was beating Wade Houston's Vols. And when we were beating Kevin O'Neill's Vols and Jerry Green's Vols and Buzz Peterson's Vols and now Bruce Pearl's Vols.

Are Bruce Pearl's Vols fun to beat? Absolutely. But any Vols are fun to beat.

Not that we're going to win tomorrow. But I'm looking forward to the game, and not because the head coach is Mr. Pearl, whom I prefer to refer to by his middle name, Dean-Fredrick.

Have a nice Friday.

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